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Physical Trainer College and University Program Information

Majors Overview February 7, 2013

Mentoring and customized coaching are used in improving the fitness level of clients by physical trainers who are also known as personal trainers. Self-study materials, associate degree programs and certificate programs are used to prepare students to pass the mandatory certification examinations.

How to Select a Physical Trainer Program

Certification is a mandatory requirement for prospective physical trainers. Personal training certifications are offered by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the American Council on Exercise. Every two to three years, physical trainers need to get re-certified. These certifications and others are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) (source:

Those who want to take the certification examination do not necessarily need to complete a training program, but aspiring candidates who do not have the necessary knowledge and skills needed to pass the certification exam will benefit from training. Training can be obtained from self-study materials or through the completion of an associate degree program or a certification program in physical training. The training will improve candidates’ chance of getting employed.

Students need to verify that every topic tested on the certification examination will be covered in the program before they enroll into an associate degree or certificate program. Hands on training facilities offered at the school must also be considered. The training will be enriched by an internship opportunity because it will provide students an opportunity to hone their skills in a real life setting ahead of the certification exam. Those who are cost-conscious could consider a certificate program instead of associate degree program because it is cheaper.

Overview of Physical Trainer Program

Self-Study Physical Trainer Program

Workshops and study materials are offered by various credentialing agencies to help prepare students who are interested in taking certification exams. Instruction in client communication skills, fitness assessment, nutrition and biomechanics is usually packaged in the self-study materials that may also offer online materials and practice tests and give students an opportunity to interact with mentors. Once they are ready to take the exam, students are required to register for the exam; registration requires students to hold CPR certification and be at least eighteen years of age. In some instances, registration requirements include a high school diploma or equivalent qualification.

Physical Training Certificate

Certificate programs are offered at some community colleges; these last between nine weeks and a year. Students learn the basics of CPR, first aid, client interaction, nutrition and exercise science. The program requires an internship of about thirty hours. Oftentimes, courses could be transferred to an associate degree program; applicants are required to hold GED certificate or high school diploma.

Physical Training Associate Degree

Private vocational schools and community colleges offer two-year Associate of Applied Science in Personal Training and Associate of Science programs; some are offered as online courses. Students are taught about evaluation of an individual’s fitness needs and application of suitable techniques and programs to fulfill a client’s objectives. Programs use state-of-the-art equipment to give students the ability to demonstrate how to use these properly; they also learn how to design personalized training courses. Students learn about assessing dietary habits and ways of intervention and development of such dietary habits. Coursework covers CPR, first aid and anatomy. Applicants are required to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma.

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